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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rivier College officially a university July 1

NASHUA – It’s official. Rivier College’s Class of 2012 will be the last to graduate under that name.

Starting July 1, the school, a private Catholic institution on South Main Street, will officially be known as Rivier Univeristy.

The name change, approved last week by state education officials, won’t lead to any formal changes to the school or its programs, according to school administrators. But, it will better reflect the school’s growing programs and population, both now and into the future, they said.

“This is a big step forward for Rivier,” Jamison Hoff, chairwoman of the school’s board of trustees, wrote Monday in a written statement.

“University status is a natural fit and it reflects our mission of, ‘transforming hearts and minds to serve the world,’” he wrote.

School officials have been working for years to expand the school’s academic programs and services. Over recent years, the school has expanded to include more than 60 programs, including 30 graduate-level degrees, as well as the state’s first doctorate program in education.

Currently, about 2,200 students attend Rivier, including 900 graduate students.

“(The new name) will more adequately represent the caliber of our faculty and graduates, as well as the quality of our academic offerings,” Sister Paul Marie Buley, the school president, wrote Monday in a written statement.

In moving to university status, Rivier is following in the footsteps of other colleges who have made similar changes in recent years. In 2001, New Hampshire College in Manchester became Southern New Hampshire University. Two years later, Plymouth State College followed suit, transitioning to a University, and in 2007, Franklin Pierce College in Rindge did the same.

In these cases, the change not only represented the schools’ expanding programs, but it helped the school appeal to more international students from across the globe, according to Tom Horgan, president of the New Hampshire College and University Council.

“Just the name college in most foreign countries denotes high school,” Horgan said Monday. “To say you’re going to a college doesn’t really meet their culture. ... Having (university) in your name helps in the international recruitment.”

To match that goal of international recruitment, the school is launching a pair of new degrees, one in global studes and one in transnational security, administrators said, and they are also working now to hire the school’s first associate vice president of global engagement to arrange international service opportunities for students.

“The move to Rivier University will broaden the institution’s profile beyond its Nashua campus, offering students an opporutnity to learn on a global level,” Buley wrote in the statement.

Jake Berry can be reached at 594-6402 or jberry@nashuatelegraph.com.